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Princeton’s Copper Mountain Mine leads North American industry in reducing emissions

Electricity and renewable diesel fuel reduce carbon footprint
Copper Mountain Mine has 28 haul trucks. Seven of those have been modified to work on the trolley assist, using electricity. Photo John Moody

Copper Mountain Mine/Hudbay is breaking ground with practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Senior government officials got an up-close look at the revolutionary technology Wednesday, August 30, during a tour of the town’s largest employer.

George Heyman, B.C. minister of environment and climate change, even enjoyed a ride on a haul truck powered in part by an electric trolley.

He said he was impressed with the initiatives the mine is pursuing.

While acknowledging that greenhouse gas emissions have pushed extreme weather events and impacted disasters like forest fires, he said the goal is to find new ways to extract natural resources that produce a smaller carbon footprint.

“Part of that is electrification, which requires copper….We aren’t going to be able to live in a world that reduces greenhouse gasses without minerals,” he said.

It cost approximately $40 million dollar to build the one km electric trolley, which runs from the pit to the crusher, and convert seven haul trucks for its use.

The mine received a $10 million grant from the province through the CleanBC Industry Fund, and $2 million in funding from BC Hydro.

Copper Mountain is the first mine in North America to adopt the system.

The modified haul trucks use only one litre of diesel fuel compared to 30 litres in a traditional truck.

“The trolley-assist project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 6,000 tonnes per year based on seven trucks operating,” said Walt Halipchuk, the mine’s director of sustainable business development.

The mine also is leading the way in the use of renewable diesel, and this summer testing of the plant-based fuel was completed at the site. Cummins Engines was able to approve it for use on all high horsepower engines across a variety of industries including mining, marine, rail, defence, oil and gas.

As well, Copper Mountain Mine received a $3.25 million provincial grant to purchase a new electric loading shovel and rotary blast hole driller.

The Canadian Federal Low Carbon Economy Challenge - Champions Stream fund also contributed $4.25 million to that project, which will further reduce mine emissions by 6,500 tonnes a year.

Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell said he is heartened by the efforts.

“There is a narrative out there that is false, that either we can have natural resources or we can have a clean, healthy environment. I entirely disagree with that,” he told the Spotlight.

“I look at B.C. as a whole, and the potential to be able to these things in a good way. I am absolutely convinced that we can deliver those critical minerals that we need, we can deliver wood from our forests and we will have jobs for our generation, and our children’s generation.”

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Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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